unctuous was our Word of the Day on 04/18/2016. Hear the podcast!
Examples of unctuous in a sentence
an unctuous effort to appear religious to the voters
an unctuous appraisal of the musical talent shown by the boss's daughter
Did You Know?
Nowadays, unctuous usually has a negative connotation, but it originated as a term describing a positive act, that of healing. The word comes from the Latin verb unguere ("to anoint"), a root that also gave rise to the words unguent ("a soothing or healing salve") and ointment. The oily nature of ointments may have led to the application of unctuous to describe things marked by an artificial gloss of sentimentality. An unctuous individual may mean well, but his or her insincere earnestness can leave an unwelcome residue with others, much like some ointments.
Origin and Etymology of unctuous
Middle English, from Medieval French or Medieval Latin; Medieval French unctueus, from Medieval Latin unctuosus, from Latin unctus act of anointing, from unguere to anoint
First Known Use: 14th century
UNCTUOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of unctuous for English Language Learners
—used to describe someone who speaks and behaves in a way that is meant to seem friendly and polite but that is unpleasant because it is obviously not sincere
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up unctuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).